OHSU team tackling triple negative breast cancer awarded $9.2 million

05/25/17  Portland, Ore.


The OHSU Center for Cancer Systems Biology aims to develop strategies to prevent the emergence of breast cancer subpopulations that are resistant to treatment

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a research team at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute $9.2 million over five years to serve as a research center in the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium, which includes Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University and Yale University.

The Knight Cancer team will focus on finding ways to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients with triple negative tumors, which do not express three cell signaling receptors involved in breast tumor development. Lacking these receptors, triple-negative tumors cannot be treated with endocrine therapy or therapies targeted to human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2).

Triple-negative tumors tend to advance more aggressively and account for about 15 percent of all invasive breast cancers.

Joe Gray"Our goals in the CSBC Research Center are to identify the mechanisms by which these cancers evolve and adapt to become resistant to treatment, and to develop new strategies to counter these mechanisms," principal investigator Joe Gray, Ph.D., said in a news release. "Our multidisciplinary approach treats these cancers as adaptive systems that can be controlled using multiple drug combinations." Gray is director of the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine and associate director for biophysical oncology in the Knight Cancer Institute.

The consortium brings together clinical and basic science cancer researchers with physician-scientists, engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists. Co-principal investigators on the project include Rosalie Sears, Ph.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine and a senior member of the Knight Cancer Institute, Claire Tomlin, Ph.D., the Charles A. Desoer Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley; Adam Margolin, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of computational biology in the OHSU School of Medicine and the Knight Cancer Institute.

Each consortium Research Center supports an outreach program to promote training in interdisciplinary science, communicate research findings, and engage the public in cancer systems biology research. Sage Bionetworks in Seattle serves as the consortium's Coordinating Center, facilitating data and resource sharing and collaborative scientific activities across the nine research centers and projects.

More information can be found on the project website.